Lots of exciting cycling news in Aberdeenshire at the moment and it just keeps on coming. You might have seen the announcement of the sport’s newest Spring Classic that will take place in the Shire in April 2022. While the Tour de France is the big event of cycling that gets global coverage, the one day classics are icons of the sport that are loved by fans worldwide. Rhynie-Foggie-Rhynie will be added to cycling calendar with a route over famous climbs such as The Cabrach and Suie and set to feature places such as Dufftown, Maggieknockater, Turriff, Auchterless, Meikle Wartle and Clatt. Spokesman for the International Union of Cycling, Kenneth Munt said from his Luxembourg home “We are super excited about this new one day classic. Aberdeenshire is the hot new cycling destination and everyone wants a bit of the action. The scenery, the hills, the castles, the passion of the local fans …this will be an epic day for the riders. Many of the traditional classics take place in Belgium, but tradition is not everything and Scotland is the perfect location for something new”.
Quizzed by the Press & Journal as to whether this meant a requirement for big spending on roads by the cash strapped Council, Munt was quick to point out “the classics are not run on smooth roads like the we see in Le Tour …they are all about testing the bike handling of the riders on roads that have bumps, thumps, mud, rubble, gravel and manure – that’s the very essence of the Spring Classics, a tough ride for the toughest of bike riders. We’ve had a very good look around and see the potential here”.
The planned ride will be 200km long with 7 brutal sections of Forestry Commission gravel tracks added to 170km on the road. Munt reported that he expected thousands of European cycling fans to descend on Aberdeenshire and the uphill gravel roads were sure to be a huge gathering point “with 20k to go the riders will climb the 18% Sharnberg (pictured below) deep in the forests of Strathbogie, it may well be the hill that decides the race and fans will flock there. I think this will become one of the icons of world cycling”.
Excitement is building with the strongest hint that leading team Jumbo Visma and superstar classics rider, Wout Van Aert are on their way to the North East. The story broke after it emerged the Station Hotel in Huntly had taken what they thought was a curious booking, which reserved the whole hotel for 4 days next April. The manager of the hotel said “a chap called last week and booked rooms in the name of …fit was it now? …Jumbo something. We thought it was a prank. He asked if we’d hae a room that wid be suitable for van art. I telt him they could use the car park as lang as they put down some dust sheets”.
The men’s Rhynie-Foggie-Rhynie, which is already being billed as ‘the Hell of the North East’ will be held on Saturday 2 April 2022, with the women’s race on the Sunday. The authorities in the North East are looking at whether to include an event on the same route for the general public, but it’s not clear whether anyone would really be interested in cycling around that area.
FOOTNOTE: You too can ride your bike around the North East this summer with the new RtN153 designed as a 5 month challenge to explore the beautiful backroads of North East Scotland. More information can be found here. We are also on the lookout for sponsors to support this initiative!